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As a seasoned turkey hunter, I have witnessed the transition from the mating-focused spring season to the survival-driven fall season. With this shift, turkeys form into distinct family groups, groups of hens only, or gobblers only.
As a hunter, your mission is to get the birds from these groups within your shotgun or arrow’s range. Fall turkey hunting presents its unique challenges, but let’s navigate this rewarding endeavor together.
Traditional Fall Hunting Tactics: The Break-Up
The staple of fall turkey hunting lies in the ‘break-up’ tactic. The objective is to locate a flock and scatter the birds in as many directions as possible. You can achieve the break-up by flushing the birds or employing a well-trained hunting dog.
After the successful break-up, patience is key as you wait near the site for the birds to return.
The Language of Turkeys in Fall
Despite the reduction of gobbling in fall, turkeys still gobble on the roost and use other vocalizations. The trick is to mimic the call of the turkeys that were in the original flock.
If it’s a family group, use a ‘kee kee call’ or ‘kee kee run’ to bring the birds back. These calls, distinctive to young turkeys, can attract the hen looking for its young or other juveniles searching for their hatch mates. For hen flocks, yelps and clucks will work best, while reassembling toms respond to coarser, slower yelps.
The Power of Scouting in Fall Hunting
Successful break-up hinges on good scouting. Yes, it’s feasible to spend hours on end hunting for flocks in known turkey areas, but many miles can be traversed without a bird in sight.
So where should you focus your search? Feeding areas and roosting areas are prime targets. Flushing turkeys out of roost areas just before dark is a popular tactic. After spending the night alone, the turkeys are often eager to reassemble in the morning.
An alternate approach involves flushing the birds of the roost early in the morning.
The Role of Dogs in Fall Turkey Hunting
Dogs bring two significant advantages to fall turkey hunting. Firstly, turkeys associate the animal with the break-up, reducing the suspicion of hunters. Secondly, a dog’s keen scent and tracking ability far surpass that of humans, enhancing your chances of locating turkeys.
Lying in Wait: A Strategic Approach
Lying in wait is another fall hunting technique you can utilize. Known feeding areas, roost areas, or travel corridors are excellent spots to anticipate turkeys.
Safety is paramount. With archery deer hunters, waterfowl hunters, and others sharing the woods, wearing blaze orange en route to your hunting area can help you stand out and stay safe.
Remember to check local hunting regulations. Most areas that permit spring hunting also allow fall hunting.
Fall turkey hunting is an exciting challenge with unique rewards. It may not have the frills of the spring season, but the thrill of successful hunting is coupled with a fine turkey ready for your table.
Let’s embrace the challenge and enjoy the wilderness responsibly!